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Working Remotely? Tips & Tricks for Creative Types

Your office is closed, the kids are doing digital learning days, and your S.O. is working from home too. It’s time to live the “Rock’n’Roll” lifestyle as Cake sings, right? Yeah…no.

Hard to believe, but working from home with a creative brain is really tough!

First of all, work/life balance is a myth! Working from home becomes work/life integration, and yes, you can make it a smooth transition.

I’ve been working remotely full-time for more than 10 years, first as a freelance writer and now as a voiceover talent. Here are some tips and tricks to get you started on that “Rock’n’Roll” Remote Worker Lifestyle.

Shower & Get Dressed

As attractive as it seems to work all day in PJs, it’s a motivation killer.

Tip: Weekends are for sleeping in and relaxing. Yes, you’re working from home, but the key word here is “working;” so get dressed. It doesn’t have to be work wear, but it should be something you wouldn’t embarrass your kids going to the grocery store wearing.

Trick: Keep your morning routine from your office work week be it exercise, meditation or sitting down with a giant cup of coffee. Your brain is already programmed to get in gear for the work day this way, so don’t change its mind.

Plan & Prioritize Your Day

Do yourself a favor and construct your day working backwards. Start with how many hours you plan to do work stuff and a list of all the tasks you want to accomplish. Then, identify which tasks MUST get done that day and how long it will take to complete each. Finally, narrow your plan, within those hours you’ve set apart for work, making sure to allow for breaks and distractions. (FYI: My average day plan is below if you’re interested in an example.)

Tip: You’re going to get distracted. That’s normal. Make sure to allow for distraction time when your brain needs a break. Throw in a load of laundry. Take the dog for a walk. Take a dance break. Just get your head out of the game for a few minutes.

Trick: Do the “ugh” tasks first. That great feeling when it’s checked off your list will fuel your motivation for the rest of the day.

Workspace

Most people recommend setting up a dedicated work space. I have three in my house: office, recording studio and a desk upstairs in the main living area, but I also work out on the porch or in a chair near the fireplace some days.

Tip: Set up a mental workspace. Get your brain trained to work anywhere with cues like opening your laptop, reviewing your calendar and tasks, getting dressed, etc.

Trick: Make a portable office toolbox. Whatever you need to work remotely, put in a tool box, vintage suitcase, backpack, whatever works best for your business. I keep my laptop, day planner, pens, notepad, tea packets and honey in a bag always at the ready for where I may be working that day.

Video Conference

Yes, phone calls can be so much easier and allow you to feed the multitasking monster, which is why you shouldn’t do phone calls. Video conferencing holds you accountable like sitting around the conference table at the office.

Tip: Mute yourself when you’re not talking. With virus protocols keeping kids home from school and dogs home from daycare, there’s bound to be a lot of ambient house noise your colleagues and clients don’t need to hear.

Trick: Look like a video meeting pro by positioning yourself eye level with the camera lens. I’ve found putting my laptop on a barstool works. Avoid overhead and fluorescent lighting. Rather, have the lighting behind your camera. Maybe sit yourself facing a window.

Be Social

Working from home can feel isolating. Trust me, I work in a 4×5 sound-proof box in a windowless room talking to myself most of the day.

Tip: Allow yourself the space to physically and mentally connect.

Trick: Meet someone for a walk outside (6-feet apart of course), set up a video chat instead of a phone call, walk the dog at the park, or take a 5-minute social media scroll.

Contract Expectations with Loved Ones and Neighbors

Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you’re “at home,” and that’s hard for family, friends and neighbors to understand.

Tip: Don’t answer the door, personal calls and emails during your work hours.

Trick: On social media, post pics of your work space with comments about getting a lot of work done despite not going into the office.

Go Outside

Being outdoors sparks creativity and improves focus. Many different studies prove it, and for now, no restrictions have been put on being outside.

Tip: Schedule at least a bit of outdoor time into your work day. It doesn’t have to be a full-on hike and don’t go outside into a crowd of people. Take a walk down the street or hit the park for the sunrise to kick off your day. Pick some weeds out of the landscaping for 15 minutes…Just get out of the house.

Trick: Walk to your mailbox and before you go back inside, look up keeping civilization out of view. Then, take a minute’s worth of deep measured breaths. Personally, I do four counts in, hold for four counts, four counts out, hold for four counts and repeat.

My Schedule

What works for me as a typical day, may not work for you, so take this with a grain of salt as my mom always says.

5:45 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.

  • Plan Day
  • Return Email
  • Early Auditions
  • Accounting Stuff (my “UGH” task)

8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

  • Work Out
  • Shower and Dress
  • House Stuff (Laundry, Errands, etc.)

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

  • Live-Directed Sessions
  • Between session tasks (Emails, Office Straighten, Pronunciation Research, Social Media, Auditions, etc.)

12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

  • Focused Working Lunch (All distractions off, I tackle a big task like writing a newsletter, prospect research, blog post written, etc.)

1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

  • Live-Directed Sessions
  • Intern Check-in Meeting
  • Between session tasks (Emails, Office Straighten, Pronunciation Research, Social Media, Auditions, etc.)

4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

  • Wrap-up Work Day Tasks
  • House Stuff (Laundry, Dinner, Carting Kids Around, etc.)

 

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